Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice sued to have the state submit for review consequences of the program’s operation to federal courts in schools districts under desegregation orders to obtain clearance before implementation of these outcomes in them. The voucher program, which allows students in poor-to-failing schools the ability to have the state pay for their attendance at another qualifying public or private school, can have the effect of marginally increasing majority-race proportions at schools under orders to reduce the incidence of school populations that had heavy compositions of students of one race. As long as this segregation is not solely created by voluntary living patterns, in these districts with a history of intentional segregation under court orders would have to have court review of any outcomes of voluntary, individual decisions made where students desire to leave a public school courtesy of the program.
While procedurally this seems neutral, in reality it invites judicial mischief. Based upon criteria spelled out in the suit, DOJ argues even the most minute adjustments can be interpreted as retrogression in affirmative district action to bring as much racial diversity to schools as possible. There’s no reason a federal judge can’t declare such minutiae as critical and violating orders even as, Jindal and others have pointed out, the impact would be likely to improve educational delivery to minority race children.